I am interested only in the unknown and I work for my own astonishment.—– Roberto Matta
Roberto Matta was a well-known and significant Chilean painter who is best remembered for his mystical and fantastical works which are widely recognised as some of the most important representations of Surrealist art. Despite being an architect by profession, he started painting in Paris in the early 1930s while working as a draughtsman and transitioned to surrealism by the middle of the decade. At first, he referred to his surrealist works as \”psychological morphologies.\” He then modified the word to \”inscape\” since he thought that his paintings genuinely represented the interior landscape of his thoughts. He produced paintings and drawings with complex, dynamic space because he was fascinated by the varying energy of the universe and rejected the idea of a singular point of view. Eventually, he used figurative imagery to add social criticism to his work.
Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren was born on November 11, 1911 in Santiago, Chile, into a family of Basque, Spanish and French descent. Roberto demonstrated a flair for creativity from an early age. He often constructed stages with curtains and backdrops, assembled his cousins, and performed on them. His parents supported him in studying architecture after recognising his artistic abilities. Roberto received his early education at the Sacred Heart French Jesuit College. He then enrolled in Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile to study interior design and architecture. In 1931, he graduated from there with a degree in architecture.
In 1933, Roberto arrived in Paris. He started working there for renowned architect and urbanist Le Corbusier. He came into contact with numerous well-known painters and their works during his stay. He quickly developed a passion for painting. Roberto fully abandoned his work as an architect in 1936, and spurred on by the Surrealist movement, he started experimenting with oil paintings and mythological themes. He called his early paintings \”Psychological morphologies\” and later referred to them as \”inscapes,\” describing them as a landscape of his inner mind and subconscious. Roberto did not follow the rules and regulations of any particular style or art movement, his art was his own, unconventional and spontaneous, both in methods, techniques, subjects and color schemes.
Roberto Matta relocated to New York City with the start of World War II, like the majority of Surrealist painters, and there he greatly affected the development of \”Automatic Painting\” among American artists. During this time, Roberto began to enjoy creating enormous, floor-to-ceiling paintings. He presented his art in his first solo exhibition in 1940, which was held in New York\’s Julien Levy Gallery. He created A 4 x 24 meter mural entitled ‘The First Goal of the Chilean People’ in honor of Salvador Allende, the president of Chile at the time. Although the mural was covered with 16 coats of paint during the subsequent military regime of Auguste Pinochet, it has now been restored at the cost of $43,000. Some of his best-known and most famous works include, ‘Cruxificion’, ‘The Earth is a Man’, ‘Being With’, ‘Our Earth is a Target’, ‘The First Goal of the Chilean People\’, ‘La Source du Calme’, ‘Invasion of the Night’, ‘Les Roses sont belles’, ‘Disasters of Mysticism’ and ‘The Source of Calm’.
Roberto Matta died in a hospital in Civitavecchia, a township located close to his home in Tarquinia, on November 23, 2002. On his death, a three-day national mourning was declared in Chile. Pioneer above all, painter of dreams and feelings, Roberto Matta\’s work is present in the biggest museums of the world. Matta\’s artistic legacy was also a deeply personal one, as four of his six children became notable artists as well. Most celebrated among his progeny was the contemporary artist Gordon Matta-Clark, who followed in his father\’s footsteps by creating socially conscious work with a distinctively architectural bent.